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Dr. H. Clifton Simmons III dies at 69

January 03, 2019

By David Burger

Nashville — Dr. H. Clifton Simmons III, immediate past president of the American Association of Dental Editors and Journalists and past president of the Tennessee Dental Association, died Jan. 1 from cancer.

Photo of Dr. Simmons
Dr. Simmons
The author, clinician, professor and expert on craniofacial pain and temporomandibular joint disorders had just turned 69.

Dr. Dan Jenkins, past president of the American Association of Dental Editors and Journalists, said, "Dr. Simmons was a gentleman with a sense of humor even though he would stand his ground when he felt his science was correct. He was easy to have a conversation with and would often mention his upbringing as being 'just a Tennessee farm-boy.' This 'Tennessee farm-boy' reaped quite a crop of achievements in his career as a dentist."

Dr. Simmons was an assistant clinical professor in the department of dentistry at the Vanderbilt University Medical School since 1993 and a clinical assistant professor at the University of Tennessee College of Dentistry in the department of restorative dentistry since 2009.

He also ran a private practice in Nashville since 1978, with about 85 percent of his patients suffering from craniofacial pain or temporomandibular joint disorders, according to his office's website.

A native of Portland, Tennessee, Dr. Simmons graduated from the Tennessee Technological University in 1971 and earned his dental degree from the University of Tennessee College of Dentistry in 1977. He served in the Tennessee Army National Guard from 1971-77, receiving an honorable discharge as a combat medic.

Dr. Simmons had risen to the office of president in multiple organizations, including the Nashville Dental Society, Tennessee Academy of General Dentistry, American Academy of Craniofacial Pain and the American Board of Craniofacial Pain.

He authored more than 40 articles regarding temporomandibular joint disorders, sleep disorders and orthodontics, according to Dr. Jenkins.

At the Tennessee Dental Association's annual session in 2017, the state association presented Dr. Simmons with its highest honor — the Dr. Jack Wells Memorial Dedication to Dentistry Award. He also was the recipient of the Tennessee Academy of General Dentistry's Dentist of the Year Award.

Dr. Mary Jennings, American Association of Dental Editors and Journalists president, said Dr. Simmons "did a beautiful job as our president. We are stronger as friends, leaders and as an association for having known him."

"Dr. Simmons was a terrific individual who wore many hats and wore them all in spectacular fashion," said Michael S. Dvorak, executive director of the Tennessee Dental Association. "He will be missed by many."

He is survived by his wife, Joan; his daughter, Megan (Erich); his son, Matthew; two brothers, Nathan, David; sister, Eva; seven grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

Gifts in memory of Dr. Simmons can be made to the H. Clifton Simmons III, DDS, Endowed Scholarship and mailed to UTHSC Office of Alumni Affairs & Development, 62 S. Dunlap (Ste. 500), Memphis, TN 38163; or to the Interfaith Dental Clinic in Nashville, Tennessee.